I Simply Love this: Young Men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence #EndFGMNG

In my line of work as a media expert, development communication consultant and recently a social media influencer, I have met a number of men who are passionate about protecting women against all forms of discrimination and are advocates of women’s rights. But seeing and meeting a group of men advocating against sexual and Gender Based violence…It is just so thrilling for me. The Youngmen network is made up of active members from all walks of life across the country in Nigeria.

You see this says to me that women are not alone.
It also tells me that men and women can be on the same team.

And then this question also comes to mind: What are we teaching our sons? They are the ones who become men tomorrow and they will treat a woman the way we taught them as families or society. It is time to pay attention to teaching our sons right values; teach them how to respect and appreciate the women in their lives.

There is just no need for the power tussle.
And while I and everyone are pushing for the education and right treatment of girls let us not fail to educate our boys.

How did I arrive here? I have been part of a two day workshop organized by the Young men Network Against Sexual and Gender Based Violence with focus on ending Female Genital Mutilation. It is a down to earth dialogue filled workshop.

Lessons & Discussion Points on FGM
Ending FGMC is not about throwing away our culture as a people, it is about stopping harmful practices.
FGM does not prevent a woman from being promiscuous as is the belief. This is totally hinged on the kind of training and upbringing or how such a child is nurtured.
Culture is not static. It is dynamic and changes from time to time/place to place.
Current data shows that 22 million women in Nigeria have undergone Female genital mutilation.
FGM is so called and not female circumcision because it is not the same as male circumcision. According to medical findings male circumcision has some health benefits and it is only one type – The removal of the foreskin. However in women, cutting is up to four types which mean everyone decides how far they want to go with cutting and scraping a woman’s vagina(Not funny)
Type three of FGM called Infibulation requires that the labia(lips of the vagina) be cut and it is sewn leaving only a small hole for urinating and mensuration! (This leaves me shivering) She is cut open when she gets married to allow sexual intercourse and in some culture when the husband is traveling the vagina is sewn and closed up until the man returns! Come on….this is just too much torture and pain.
• FGM causes mental and physical harm.
• Although at the national level in Nigeria the Violence Against Persons Prohibition Act (VAPP) had been signed into law since 2015, enforcing it and adoption by states remains an issue. Under the VAPP law, the act of FGM/C is punishable with a 5years imprisonment or a fine of N100, 000. If you ask me this fine should be like 5million.

The discussion is still ongoing and the way forward is to keep dialoguing with communities and people about FGMC. There is a need for more and continuous education and education about what this practice means to the women and girls concerned and to the family unit at large.

Facilitators/Speakers:

Sola Fagorusi – Onelife Initiative for Human Development

Ayodeji Osowobi – Stand to End Rape

Adebisi Adetunji(C)

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SPITFIRE Advocacy Skills Training for Media in Oyo State

When I first heard of the catch phrase “Spitfire”, I thought in Pidgin language…”Wetin this one mean now”? Analysing it further I came to the conclusion that it possibly means reinforcement and persistently talking about an important social issue or whatever issue. In this case spacing births in order to save lives, improve on the quality of lives of citizens and of course making governance easier for government.

I have been part of the Spitfire Advocacy training on how to effectively share family planning stories organized by DEVCOMS and NURHI holding in Ibadan, Oyo State.

As the training began it became clear what Spitfire Advocacy means. It is a tool for helping non-profit organizations develop high impact and effective persuasive communication. It is a Smart Chart for communications and the latest version is known as Chart 3.0

In advocacy efforts the Spitfire tool can be used at different levels of creating awareness and making impact about an issue. Some of these stages include:
1) Just starting a communication process: This is the planning stage where you determine your message; goals and objectives and what you intend to achieve.
2) Building on a campaign that is already on-going
3) Reviewing and wanting to scale up on an already executed project.

Spitfire is also a more effective strategic communication advocacy tool. It helps organizations and individuals who are change agents to make decisions that will produce high result. Read more about The Spitfire Strategies Smart Chart 3.0, a highly effective communication tool.

Why  the media is important here: Because it has the capacity to educate the public. The media is a potent force that can cause change positively or negatively.

Spitfire strategies helps you make:
Specific
Measurable
Actionable/Attainable
Realistic
Time Bound

Set SMART goals, decisions in achieving a change.

I learned that nothing is impossible if you set your mind to it. Team work and coalitions makes pursuing and achieving success at an idea more effective. As you can see in this photo

A group of participants in a tight interlocked hand holding exercise. Lots of laughter 😂😂😂 as they tried to untangle while still holding each others hands to form a circle. It looked unachievable at first but we ended up unraveling the mystery 😀😀😂

Facilitators at the training:
Mrs Stella Akinso – State Team Lead, Oyo (NURHI)
Mallam Kabir. M. Abdullahi – State Team Leader, Kaduna(NURHI)
Mr Samuel Rapheal – Senior Program officer, Advocacy & Demand generation (NURHI)

Adebisi Adetunji (C)

Interesting Take Away from the training “Effective Family Planning Projection on Social Media” Presentation by Mrs Stella Akinso

Family Planning is having children by choice not by chance.

Data/Statistics of maternal deaths is not just figures…these are real people…human beings.

Family Planning is able to prevent 40% of maternal mortality. Women of reproductive age at high birth risks include:
• Those who get pregnant too early in age.
• Giving birth at very short intervals
• Too old an age

Government and policy makers need to wake up and take necessary action to end maternal and child mortality. Family planning is key to the sustainable millennium goals.

It is time to stop the lines – “Only 1 woman/person died”. No woman should have to die giving life to another.

OUR Population is multiplying and not just doubling in Nigeria. We should ask ourselves do we have resources to cater for our increasing population? 2 million youths get churned out into the labor market every year and there are no jobs!

Family planning is not saying don’t have children but have only the number you can cater for. Men need to get more involved in making an informed choice about family planning for their family.

Benefits of Family Planning
• More working-age people supporting few number of children
• Access to sex education and contraceptive
• Slow population growth
• Results in better breastfeeding as the mother can give enough time for proper care of the baby without having a too early pregnancy.

How a young person should refuse sexual advances: Communicate NO properly. Use your facial expression, hands and tone of voice to say NO. If the other person insists on touching you inappropriately push if you have to and walk away…Don’t be passive and stand there…WALK AWAY.

Stella Akinso is the State Team Leader for Nigerian Urban Health Initiative 2, Oyo.

Adebisi Adetunji (C)